“The problem with the future is that it is different. If we are unable to think differently, the future will always arrive as a surprise.” 

Gary Hamel, Management Guru


Most companies are able to imagine the future. The most common problem is that they can only imagine one possible future - usually one with the most incremental changes to today. And they are guaranteed to be wrong.

We can avoid a “group think” blinkered view by deliberately generating alternative perspectives - from the outside, by assigning devil’s advocates and using them to open up minds to additional possibilities.

Questions to answer

  • What are the key uncertainties? Where do they lead?
  • Where do the underlying economics drive us towards?
  • What are the critical “forks in the road” that would lead to different futures?
  • What is the best case future we can imagine? And the worst case?
  • If implementation barriers disappeared, how would the industry reshape?

Example Framework: Scenario Planning

We can consolidate some of the high impact uncertainties in the industry by considering whether they are closely correlated or are broadly independent. A simple way to generate discrete scenarios is to identify the two biggest independent uncertainties then matrix them to create four different scenarios.

Develop each one of these into a rich picture of that world by considering the implications:

  • Describe a “day in the life” in this future world
  • Write a newspaper article from the future
  • What will the future value chain be?
  • What new opportunities will be created?
  • What will be commoditised?
  • What new capabilities will be required?
  • Who will be the winners and losers?

Once we have developed our scenarios, we have to develop them into compelling stories for communication across the organisation. Remember, the purpose is not to be “right”, the purpose is to broaden minds so that the organisation can respond rapidly whichever way the world develops.

Additional Frameworks